Feudalism and Eastern European forests

The set of ideas coming along with the medieval Christianization rapidly destroyed the pristine environment in Eastern Europe, according to new research published in Nature. Researchers analyzing the areas around Łagrów, Poland found deforestation and dramatic change of the plants’ composition in the area in the time when the land came under the management of the Order of the Knights of St John in the middle of the 14th century. They introduced more “advanced” ways of cultivation and “anthroecosystem” with the idea of profits maximization. That, according to Amanda Power from the University of Oxford, replaced the “pagan” cultures which were closer to nature and managed it sustainably for thousands of years.

The destruction of forests coming with the infrastructural megaprojects could make climate targets unachievable, according to the newest report. Tens of thousands of kilometers of railroads and roads aimed at facilitating natural capital extraction in Asia, Africa, and South America will result in mass deforestation. In Amazon alone, road-related investments will destroy 2,4 million hectares of forests in the next five years. The report was prepared by a coalition of organizations called the New York Declaration on Forests Assessment Partners.

Peatlands store one-third of our planet’s soil carbon even though they cover just 3 percent of Earth’s land surface. They may not only be crucial in stopping climate change but could also be an important factor in avoiding new diseases, a new study from the PeerJ journal suggests. By protecting peatlands in the tropical zones, we also preserve habitats of the wildlife there. That limits contact with humans and prevents new diseases from spreading.